Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys

What a Dream It's Been

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Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys celebrate their quarter-century anniversary by revisiting their favorite songs from the past, giving them light new arrangements on What a Dream It's Been. Usually, these are stripped down so they rely on acoustic instruments, but that doesn't mean this is a typical "unplugged" release, one that showcases the group's unacknowledged sensitive side. No, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys still can cook with gas here -- "Missouri Gal" genuinely grooves, "Glad When I'm Gone" skips along like good bluegrass -- and this variety helps keep the record kicking, while underscoring how one of the group's great strengths is their versatility. At their heart, they're country-rockers, but they can play almost any kind of American roots music -- "(You Mean) Too Much to Me" uncannily captures the ghostliness of Elvis Presley's Sun sessions, while "I Know I've Loved You Before" crackles with Tex-Mex -- and this anniversary album may showcase this skill better than any one of their studio albums.

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